A national press ad for Nivea Vital moisturising cream available from Boots showed an image of two women, the older of whom was the focus of the ad. Text stated "GIVES MATURE SKIN THE EXTRA CARE IT DESERVES". Text next to the product image stated "VITAL ANTI-AGE CREAM - VISIBLY REDUCES WRINKLES, IMPROVES FIRMNESS AND HELPS PREVENT AGE SPOTS". Text on the packaging stated "Reduces all major signs of mature skin ageing".
The complainant, who believed that post-production techniques had been used on the image, challenged whether the ad misleadingly exaggerated the effect that could be achieved by the product.
Beiersdorf UK Ltd, t/a NIVEA, (NIVEA) acknowledged that they had retouched the image, which they said they generally did in their ads, but stated that they had deliberately left a lot of wrinkles around the eyes of the older woman, respecting the signs of age she exhibited. They said they always took care not to overly retouch the images used in their ads, and usually just covered skin gloss and birth marks and made adjustments to the colour and lighting. NIVEA also pointed out that the ad did not make a "before/after" comparison or promise any quantifiable reduction in wrinkles. They said the ad merely showed an attractive, radiant woman in her 50s or 60s and the way in which they portrayed her did not reflect an unrealistic ideal of beauty.
NIVEA provided copies of the image used in the ad before and after retouching, and stated that the primary purpose of the post-production work had been to clearly show how a woman aged 60+ could also be desirable and a role model to which others could aspire. They said the print campaign was designed to give a very realistic, authentic view of the older model's looks, and she had therefore been presented in such a way as to show her natural beauty and imperfections. They stated that the image had been modified in the areas in which they had seen improvements from their products in biophysical measurement and clinical scoring: namely in respect of sagging cheeks, puffiness and wrinkles on the forehead, around the mouth and the nasolabial fold (between the nose and mouth).
The ASA acknowledged that advertisers were keen to present their products in their most positive light using techniques such as post-production enhancement, and considered that that approach was acceptable provided that the outcome did not misleadingly exaggerate the effect that the product was capable of achieving.
We noted that the ad promoted an "anti-age" cream and contained the claims "VISIBLY REDUCES WRINKLES", "HELPS PREVENT AGE SPOTS" and "Reduces all major signs of mature skin ageing". The ASA had not to date seen adequate scientific evidence demonstrating that moisturisers were able to achieve those results, some of which implied physiological effects. Furthermore, we considered that those claims related to visible effects of the product which would be represented in the image. We noted that the image in the ad had undergone post-production enhancement and referred to the material provided by NIVEA. We considered that the image of the older model, who was in the centre of the shot, had undergone extensive retouching resulting in substantial changes to the model's appearance. Lines and wrinkles on her face, particularly around the eye and mouth area, had been dramatically reduced, and several age spots had been removed. In the absence of evidence demonstrating that that effect was in line with that which could be achieved through use of the product, we concluded that the ad misleadingly exaggerated the performance of the product in relation to the claims "anti-age", "VISIBLY REDUCES WRINKLES", "HELPS PREVENT AGE SPOTS" and "Reduces all major signs of mature skin ageing".
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Beiersdorf UK Ltd to ensure that they did not use post-production techniques in a way that exaggerated the effect achievable through use of the advertised product.